TO AVOID liver disease and accidents as a result of holiday revelry, Filipinos should be wary of alcoholic tendencies and drink responsibly, a hepatologist said.  

“It [binge drinking] can put you at risk of developing alcoholic hepatitis, and those with a background of diabetes or are overweight can experience more problems. It contributes to liver diseases and other pathologies,” said Dr. Diana A. Payawal, president of the Philippine College of Physicians (PCP), at a Dec. 13 webinar on holiday health essentials.  

Binge drinking or excessive alcohol use is defined by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as having four or more beer bottles or hard drinks for women and five or more for men, within the span of two to three hours.  

Studies have shown that binge drinking is a risk factor for advanced alcoholic liver disease. 

In the Philippines, liver cancer is the fourth most common cancer, claiming a total of 9,953 lives in 2020 and affecting two times more men than women, according to data from the Philippine Statistics Authority and the Department of Health.  

Dr. Payawal explained that although alcohol is considered an integral part of holiday celebrations in the country, Filipinos must exercise caution to protect both their own health and that of others.  

“For example, crimes related to New Year celebrations occur because people are drunk. Not only does it bring harm to ourselves but to other people, so we must be aware of the collateral damage related to excessive alcohol,” she said.  

At risk of the most harmful effects of binge drinking are those who don’t have a high tolerance or aren’t even alcoholics but go all out just for one night, according to the CDC.  

Even red wine, which contains 12 to 14 grams of alcohol, and white wine, which contains less than 10 grams of alcohol, still have deleterious effects.  

“Spirits aren’t as strong as hard drinks, but they’re still alcohol,” reminded Dr. Payawal. “You have the liberty to drink water and pace yourself.” — Brontë H. Lacsamana